Friday, August 27, 2010

Kooky Wins Modesty Approval Card

Kooky has posted out their Summer Collection 2010 lookbook and again I'm awed and delighted by the feminine garments within.

Kooky is a New Zealand designer label that creates fabrics specifically for their designs, so you're not going to get them cheap, but feast your eyes on these samples and I dare you to escape being thrilled and inspired!

I explored Kooky's entrancing Palmerston North store in June, wished I had a film crew with me, was given personal attention by both staff (no, they didn't know who I was), bought a couple of half price items (which tapped the outer limits of my budget!), and awarded a BoutiqueNarelle approval card, which I don't often do because modest clothing stores are rare -- as you well know. Despite my new bank balance, it was a blissfully girly experience.

You can find more details about the modesty approval card and what to do with it here:

I'm sure you'll agree it's refreshing to see such a percentage of modest garments and on models who aren't flaunting themselves. There are as many skirts as pants, and no exposed bosoms or shoulders. If Kooky is out of your price range (which you may not know until you go shopping because the catalogue is discreet upon this matter also), take note of how modesty and femininity is achieved in these outfits.

What are we looking for in a modest garment? Preference and convictions vary, but generally the aim is this:

non-transparent coverage of and/or non-clinging drape over
shoulders and arm-pits,
crotch and buttocks,
thighs and knees.

No. 29 gets a super-thumbs-up from BoutiqueNarelle. I've let 27 and 28 share the limelight so you can compare and contrast. (Remember, click on the image to view enlarged.)

Unlike most stores who limit themselves to the current seasonal trend, Kooky stock colours that cater for every complexion.

You can view the rest of the catalogue online at and find out store locations or contact details to get yourself on their mailing list.

To all the staff at Kooky, thank you! You are appreciated!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Denim & Tee Event, Down Under

A survey run by BoutiqueNarelle in 2008 showed that modest tops are the most difficult garments to find, followed by skirts. Let's take a look at what's available for shoppers Down Under.

The featured store is Victoria Hill, in assocation with Damart.

Prices listed are in New Zealand dollars. If you can't find one of these garments on the Victoria Hill website, it will be because their online store tends to lag behind the mailed catalogues. Contact them and explain the problem.

I hope you find something here that solves your closet dilemma and allows you to step out in modest confidence!

It's not clear from the catalogue whether the white cami is part of this wrap polo tee. My guess is that it's a separate tank top, possibly the one featured with the Spring Crinkle Tee (2nd image above).

Denim Flip Skirt, NZ$59.99

Denim & Tee Event, USA

A survey run by BoutiqueNarelle in 2008 showed that modest summer tops are the most difficult garments to find, followed by skirts.

This week Chadwicks is offering a US$5 discount on this long denim skirt. The Denim Event sale ends 22 August 2010.

While we're on American shopping turf, let's check out tee shirt options. Clicking on any of these images will take you to the page for more details.

Big scoops and gapey sleeves are in. Modest tees are hard to find. Here are two knit tops (above and below) that could solve those problems for you. Wear one on its own, or as an underlayer for those gapey-drapey items.

Here's another tee option (below). A bit more scoop to the neck and a bit less fabric in the sleeves, but the zoom feature seems to indicate that the fabric is opaque.

My motto is never trust a tee shirt until you've tried it on. The same goes for cotton button-up shirts, because fabric is often more transparent in reality than it appears in photographs. This is one of the hazards of shopping online, but posting back an unsuitable tee shirt may cost less than it would for you to drive to the store, try the garment on, and drive home again.

Keeping that in mind...

...this appears to be a cute basic shirt for a modest lady, provided you can remedy the missing buttons. If you're not wearing hipster skirt/trousers, you may get away without one at the bottom of the placket, but you'll almost certainly need more closure at the top. The following posts from August 2008 suggest options for that.

Summer Magic
The Great Shirt Hunt, part 1

Friday, August 13, 2010

Bag of Tricks for Travellers, part 2

Are you acquainted with the challenges of restricted luggage allowances? Whether you fly to your destination, catch a bus, or drive in a very small car, you will benefit from knowing travel tricks that maximize your luggage space and give you more freedom in closet choice.


A baby hot water bottle fits in a case or pack much more readily than an adult, and is just as hot.

Travelling light means not having many outfit options should you get caught out in a rainstorm, so the happiest position is not to get wet at all. If you're not going to encounter strong winds, the smallest of lightweight umbrellas (below on right) should be ample for keeping you dry between car and building or crossing the street. If you have to wait for a bus, it will probably keep all but your outer edges dry. Alternatively, stow a compact plastic poncho that goes over everything. It will be less than half the size of this umbrella, but you may need a stoic dignity to go with it.

On the spur of the moment, I grabbed a NZ$4 bag-within-a-bag (above on left) from The Warehouse and I'm very glad I did so. It's light, takes up hardly any space, and is more elegant than a plastic bag. The rolled-up inner bag turns into a capacious and comfortable shoulder bag that will swallow groceries to beach towels. The zippered case keeps sharp things in my purse like keys from scratching my electronic equipment.

How big does your computer need to be? Up until 2009 I carted a full size laptop by car, bus, plane, and foot. I don't know how I did it. I remember straining down Wellington's Wakefield Street from bus stop to youth hostel towing my roller pack with my backpack balanced against the handle, a food cooler in the other hand and my laptop case hanging from that shoulder. Yep, I was mad. I made two trips for the return to the bus stop.

Since then, I've been very interested in downsizing my portable equipment. As you see, I now have a baby. Nova is an HP mini 210 netbook, Vivienne Tam edition. She fits into my purse which fits into my backpack. I can do everything on her a writer/photographer needs except tasks that require a lot of grunt such as desktop publishing and fancy photo editing. I save those tasks for home and PC.

And while you're packing a laptop, consider how many cords you really need for your other electronic equipment such as cameras, cellphones, and mp3 players. If your device plugs into the computer for charging or data sharing, leave the chunky adaptors at home.

You may be wondering why take a purse as well as a backpack. Have you ever tried going to a classy restaurant or evening concert wearing a backpack? It just doesn't feel right, does it?

I admit that I gazed with envy when a young lady boarded my flight to Brisbane carrying only a handbag. It was half the size of this one! The truth is that my lunch box and travel pillow would have a hard time fitting into her handbag. They won't even fit into my handbag, so I take a backpack and handbag that can be used separately and also one inside the other (plus cushion, plus lunch box). This works for me. Explore the myriad of bag options and find what works for you.

I'm certain that most of you are hardy enough to not need a travel pillow. I've used mine as a writing table, to balance my lunchbox, to insulate me from rigid church pews and plastic airport seating, to alleviate the pressing interest of seatbelts, and to support my neck when sleeping on unyielding foreign beds.

The cushion is 33x33cm and cost me $4 at The Warehouse. I reshaped a torn but otherwise luxurious bed sheet into a zipped cushion case with carry handle, x2. Are you one of those who prefer sleeping on a fresh pillow case? Considering the places that cushion gets used, frequent change of cover seems to me a reasonable luxury. If my suitcase is pressed for space, I tuck the extra cover inside the one in use. The carry handle means I can shoulder the cushion independent of whatever else I'm carrying and it actually looks like a shoulder bag.

If you have your own tricks for resizing and adapting the contents of your suitcase, we'd love to hear from you!

Photos of Darina courtesy of her Nana Isabel Worboys.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Bag of Tricks for Travellers, part 1

When modest ladies travel, their luggage ratio is higher than that of most modern women. This is because modest garments use more fabric than many designers deem necessary. If you desire to dress modestly on your travels, you will benefit from the following travel tricks that maximize your luggage space and give you more freedom in closet choice.


A key to travelling light is to take only what you will need. For example, if your trip is for 3 weeks, you won't need 3 months' worth of shampoo.

Since the enforcement of security measures on international and domestic flights and the subsequent ban of personal care items in bottles or tubes larger than 100ml for in-flight luggage, factories have been bundling out cute little options in toothpaste, shampoo, skin lotion, and everything else you require in your emergency toiletries kit.

You may not feel the need to have personal care items in your hand luggage (I do, because I know misdirected or delayed luggage is common), but they will certainly minimize your mass and lighten your load so there's more space for the items you can't do without.

You may not wish to buy a mini-toothpaste tube specifically for your journey. In that case, the way to lighten your load is to use small containers.

I collect useful containers. For travel, their one vital qualification is that they be watertight, for I've never enjoyed a leak in my luggage -- have you? The collection below includes a film cannister, a bottle and tub from Neways (the company that supplies my non-toxic shampoo, soap, etc, sells these as empties), and the reclining pill bottle came courtesy of my local pharmacy.

I'm very partial to the pump-lid bottle (above with mini-toothpaste, etc, and below in Warehouse packaging; sometimes they're located next to the suitcases, sometimes in the manchester aisle) which houses my liquid soap, which, by the way, works for body, laundry, and dishes! The neck clip ensures it doesn't leak during transit.

Do you have the toilet bag sorted? Some ladies prefer to call it a cosmetic purse. I rarely carry face paints, and when I do the proportion hardly qualifies for a rebrand, so for this article, the object is a toilet bag.

That being said, I knew that as an entertainer a day would come when I would need to tote quantities of cosmetics. I purchased by mail a Mary Kaye roll-up cosmetic tote bag. It featured 4 detachable zippered purses and a hanger hook. But the thing was huge! How could I ever fill that...or justify its large presence in my suitcase? No doubt this entertainer will in due course expand in dignity and personal toilette and it will then fulfil its destiny, but for the present I use just one of the detachable zipped purses.

It's specific designation is showering items. I like it because I can grab what I want quickly without having to fish for it. One drawback to this purse is its lack of hanger/handle -- cabin and motel showers frequently don't offer a bench or shelf for necessary items. My solution for this is the addition of a large paperclip on the zipper pull tab. A wire twistie tie (the black or white things used to bundle your new appliance cables) also works -- I pack this in my toilet bag in case the shower cubicle doesn't even provide a hook. I can use the twistie tie to hang the toilet bag from the curtain rail, shower spigot, or door latch.

Next week there will be another bag of tricks for travellers! In the meantime, if you have your own tricks for reducing and resizing your travel requirements, we'd love to hear from you!

Photos of Darina courtesy of her Nana Isabel Worboys.
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